No More Secrets

B146DD40-1000-4519-AEA1-FC1EE5831545“I thought we agreed no more secrets,” Max said to his wife.

“I’m sorry I was late,” Ruth said as she walked into their home at nearly 11:30 at night. “I’m working on that big presentation for the board tomorrow and I lost track of the time.”

“You always come up with good excuses, Ruth,” Max said. “But there is no excuse this time. How about a little honesty for a change?”

“Max, I am not making up excuses and I am being honest with you. And as to secrets, well, Max, we all have secrets,” Ruth said. “I know there are things about you that you haven’t told me, things you think that you don’t share with me, feelings that you don’t express.”

“You know that’s not what I’m talking about, Ruth,” Max said. “I’m talking about your late nights at the firm, your meals at expensive restaurants, your out-of-town trips. No more secrets, remember?”

“I’m not keeping any secrets from you, Max. You know I have a high pressure, very demanding job,” Ruth said. “And it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for you, Max. I’m the one who makes enough money at the firm so that you can stay home and work on your novel and interact with all of your little blogging friends.”

“Yes, that’s true. You are the breadwinner,” Max admitted. “But that doesn’t give you carte blanche to run around on me.”

“What are you talking about, Max?” Ruth asked. “Are you accusing me of having an affair? How dare you?”

Max pulled out his smartphone and shoved it toward his wife. “No secrets, huh?” He said. “Then how do explain all of these photos the private detective I hired texted me tonight?”

“Max, I’m no fool,” Ruth said after scrolling through the pictures on Max’s smartphone. “I knew you were having me tailed and so I had all of these photos staged in order to give you fodder for your sexy adult novel.” Ruth gave Max a coquettish smile. “It’s my gift to you.”

“Oh I’m so sorry, Ruth, but I have been keeping a little secret from you, too,” Max said.

“You mean in addition to the one that you hired a private detective to spy on me?” Ruth asked. “What other secret, Max?”

“I decided to shift gears with my book and to write a murder mystery. I was looking for a good motive for the perpetrator, and these photos really help,” Max said, a smug smile on his face. “By the way, Ruth, I fixed you your favorite cocktail before you got home tonight. Drink up, my dear.”

Written for Rachel Poli’s Time To Write: Sentence Starter prompt, where the sentence is “I thought we agreed no more secrets.” And for the Three Things Challenge from The Haunted Wordsmith, where the three things are “sorry,” “late,” and “no excuse.”

Page 17, Line 10

2c7d97e1-74d7-4713-89c4-281bbd1eb5e7Teresa, aka, The Haunted Wordsmith, has this thing were she gives us a page number and a line and asks us to find a book, go to that page and line in the book, and to use what we find there as the inspiration for a post. This time, she pointed us to page 17, line 10.

I went into my Kindle library on my iPhone and randomly picked out the book titled “Secrets: Do Your Neighbors Know You?” by Michael A. Smith. I went to page 17 and this is what I found on line 10:

“the wheels will come off soon as he backs out of the driveway.”

So with that line, here’s my story.

“Did you take care of it?” Nick asked. “Eddie told us to take care of it and you know what will happen to the two of us if we don’t get it taken care of.”

“Don’t worry about it, Nick,” Jake said. “I handled it.”

Jake, no offense, pal, but you ain’t exactly the sharpest knife in the draw, you know what I’m saying?” Nick said. “So tell me, what exactly did you do to take care of it.”

“It’s a good plan, Nick,” Jake said. “It’s solid. The sap won’t know what hit him.”

“I hear you, Jake,” Nick said, “but I just need for you to tell me the details.”

“Yeah, I get it, Nick,” Jake said. “So let me tell you what I did. I removed all of the lug nuts from his car’s wheels, so the wheels will come off soon as he backs out of the driveway.”

Nick looked at Jake in disbelief. “Jake, buddy, how fast do you think Tommy will be going when he backs out of his driveway? What? Two, three miles an hour, if that?”

“I dunno, maybe.”

“Jake,” Nick said, “even if the wheels do come off when he backs out of the driveway, do you think that’s going to kill Tommy, like Eddie told us to do?”

“Kill Tommy? What the hell are you talking about?” Jake said. “I thought Eddie said that we needed to make Tommy late. If the wheels come off his car before he’s out of his driveway, Tommy will definitely be late for wherever he’s going.

Nick just shook his head. “Jake,” he said, “Eddie told us to make Tommy Stefanzo the late Tommy Stefanzo, not to make Tommy Stefanzo late.”

Tale Weaver — Crossing the Country By Train

AB9DFEE0-F7DE-49D9-B0C0-D3CE638CAF5AA few years back, I had to be in Boston for a business meeting. Normally I would have flown across the country, a trip that typically takes about six hours. But for some reason, I decided that I was going to take a train from San Francisco to Boston instead.

Of course, there is no train that goes directly from San Francisco to Boston. But there is one that goes from San Francisco to Chicago, the California Zephyr. It runs daily from Emeryville/San Francisco to Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, across the Rockies to Denver, and through the plains of Nebraska to Chicago.

The trip takes just north of 51 hours, so I booked something called a “roomette,” which is essentially a small, cubicle-sized room that converts to a sleeper at night. The accommodations also included three meals a day in a dining car and priority access to what they called a scenic-view lounge car.

From Chicago To Boston, I booked the Lake Shore Limited. From Chicago, it heads through South Bend, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Albanbefore arriving in Boston 19 hours later.

So I prepared myself for a 70+ hour train adventure. How did it go? Well, overall, it was, um, okay.

The Good Stuff

  • The scenery along the California–Nevada border (the Sierra Nevada Mountains) and on the Utah to Denver leg (the Rocky Mountains) was spectacular.
  • The other passengers were very friendly. Seating in the dining car was “family-style,” and, as a person traveling alone, I was seated with three other travelers each time. I met some very nice people.
  • Most of the passengers along the San Francisco to Chicago leg were vacationers, either old-timers like me, or families traveling with kids.
  • Most of the passengers along the Chicago to Boston leg were kids going home for the weekend from college, a number of Amish families for some reason, or business people. Fewer families, fewer oldies than on the other train.

The Bad Stuff

  • The scenery between Denver and Chicago is, well, let’s just say that that’s a good time to catch up on the sleep you were unable to get between San Francisco and Denver. And between Chicago and Boston there really isn’t much to look at.
  • The train from San Francisco arrived in Chicago 5 1/2 hours late. Fortunately I had a 7-hour layover before my train to Boston was scheduled to leave Chicago.
  • The train bound for Boston left Chicago 35 minutes late and arrived in Boston 3 1/2 hours late.
  • Trying to sleep in a roomette (a very small, narrow, cramped accommodation) was not great. No, the rocking motion of the train didn’t lull me to sleep. Although, by the second night, when exhaustion set it, I did get a few more hours of sleep than I had gotten the night before.
  • Trying to sleep in a regular coach seat on the overnight trip from Chicago to Boston was close to impossible.
  • Amtrak’s funding has been cut way back, so most of the train cars are older and, while generally in good repair, could use some sprucing up. (Duct tape holding certain parts together in the sleeping rooms and rest rooms is a dead giveaway.)

Bottom line, taking the train across the country was an experience. But if I ever have to travel from coast to coast again, I think I’ll fly.

Written for this week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt, where we’re supposed to write about a train journey. Photo credit: Jim Kable.

Time To Write — Plus or Minus

5999B4D9-E12A-43DB-B416-D883800412BD“You’re late?” Aaron said to his wife. “You mean your period?”

“Yes,” Karla said, smiling broadly. “Three weeks late, in fact. And I’m never late.”

“So is that why you’re standing there grinning like a Cheshire and holding one of those pregnancy test sticks in your hand?” Aaron asked, pointing to the stick. “Did you pee on it yet?”

“No, silly,” Karla said. “I wanted to wait until you got home.”

“Okay,” an excited Aaron said. “Let’s do this thing.”

The two walked hand-in-hand to the bathroom. When Aaron started to follow Karla into the small bathroom, she objected. “Can I have some privacy please?”

“What? It’s not like I’ve never seen you pee before,” Aaron pointed out.

“You’ve never seen me pee on a stick,” Karla said, as she walked into the bathroom and closed the door.

After a couple of minutes, Aaron grew impatient waiting for Karla to come out of the bathroom. He knocked on the door. “You okay in there?” The door swung open and Karla stood there, tears streaming down her cheeks.

F784344A-B093-43F9-AB95-BCC1B681416EAaron couldn’t tell by looking at Karla’s expression whether the indicator showing on the stick was a plus sign or a minus sign. “Are those tears of joy or tears of sorrow?” he asked.

Karla slowly walked toward Aaron, put both of her arms around his neck, stood on her toes, and whispered in his ear. “Happy Father’s Day, sweetheart.”

Written for Rachel Poli’s Time To Write prompt. The challenge is to write a story starting with the words, “You’re late.”

#JusJoJan — Coffee Date

CB7096EC-3B91-4397-8E8D-70F5CA77536E“Okay,” he said with a sense of desperation, “How about we just meet for coffee tomorrow morning?”

Elizabeth sighed. This guy on the phone said that he’d seen her at a friend’s party a few weeks back and had persuaded the friend to give him her phone number. For the past half hour he’d been trying to get her to agree to go on a date with him. But she was totally averse to blind dates and had been spending the last fifteen minutes unsuccessfully trying to get off the phone.

But still he persisted and she finally caved. “Okay, fine. I’ll meet you at the Starbucks at the corner of 9th and Nelson at 8:00. But just so you know,” she warned, “I have to be at work by 8:30, so I won’t be able to stay very long.”

“No worries,” he said. “See you in the morning, Elizabeth. Bye.”

“Finally,” she said aloud after hanging up the phone.

She arrived deliberately late at the Starbucks the next morning at around ten past eight. She looked around at the tables to see if anyone made eye contact. When no one took any notice her, she was relieved, but just a bit disappointed.

She started to head out of the Starbucks, but as she was approaching the door to leave, a man walked in, flashed a big smile, and reached out his hand to take hers. “Elizabeth,” he said, shaking her hand, “I’m so sorry I’m late. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.”

Elizabeth blushed, looked at her watch, which read 8:15, and said, “No, it’s fine.”

“Do you still have time to have a cup of coffee?” He asked. She nodded. She wondered how she had not noticed him at the party. He was gorgeous. Like movie star gorgeous.

He pointed to a small table. “Grab that table,” he said. “How do you take your coffee?” he asked.

“A touch of milk and one Splenda,” she said. He went to order the coffees and she sat down at the table, picked up her cell phone, and called one of her work associates. “Janet,” she said, “start the meeting without me. I’m going to be coming in a little late today. Maybe two to three hours late, actually.”

Written for today’s Just Jot It January prompt from Linda G. Hill. Today’s word is “coffee,” suggested by Barbara over at Teleportineweena.